6 thoughts on “Public Dialogue Earth Day 2009 “Plastic bags: To Ban, or Not to Ban?””

  1. Dear YB Lim,

    Ecotourism will help diversity Penang’s tourism appeal, but building a Tiger Park is not wise and not useful.

    Tourists who are interested in ecotourism will turn away from man-made structures and artificial enclosures. Even those who come will laugh when they find out that Penang didn’t have tigers, but had to import them (with much trouble and expense) for a tourist gimmick. Tourists are getting cleverer and more demanding of “the real thing” and NOT gimmicks.

    All over Malaysia, poor conceived plans have destroyed the appeal of much of Malaysia’s “ecotourism” destinations. Ugly concrete buildings and tar-paved roads built (likely profiting a select group) to make natural attractions “better” are an eye-sore to nature lovers. We can’t attract tourists this way.

    Instead, why not set aside an area with drawn out campgrounds and with a few cabins. Much like caravan parks overseas, people can rent a campsite and set up tent. Each campsite can even be equipped with an electrical outlet. Campsites and cabins will be managed by on-site staff, with an admin centre central to the sites. The attraction will be the various trails that people can explore, and then at night, they can come together at the admin centre for a campfire with dances etc. Simple is good.

    If this facility is well-run and maintained by people who are genuine nature-lovers and know how to market it to nature-loving tourists, it can attract a lot of tourists because such facilities are limited in Malaysia (and SEA). Also, it gives a place for local youths to camp and encourage a love for nature. There is currently nowhere in Penang convenient for youths to camp and so there is no genuine camping culture. People who are less adventurous can opt to stay in the few cabins that are also available on the grounds.

    It is possible for Penang to be elevated to be ‘a class above the rest’ – More socially, environmentally and culturally-conscious. But that needs truly wise moves that can CULTIVATE the society. This campground can become one of them.

    As for banning plastic bags, I will voice my views at the public dialogue, but want to highlight here that things are so bad in Penang (Malaysia) that there are a lot of less drastic and more useful changes we can make.

  2. 我个人觉得应该鼓励减少使用,但不可以一下子叫我们不可以使用!

  3. concerned penangite

    finally, i think i found the right place to vent my frustrations.
    couple of things…and in line with keeping Penang a more attractive place to live and enjoy.
    1) rubbish everywhere – im disgusted by the amount of rubbish thrown almost everywhere. recently, i began picking up hiking since penang offers such a wonderful choice of hiking trails. what makes me sad (and as a penangite) is the amount of rubbish along the hiking trails. couple of things i found lacking…rubbish bins and lack of education as well as enforcement. this is particularly true during the fruit seasons when out of state tourist visited penang and conveniently threw the fruit skins out of their car windows.
    2) botanical gardens – am sure u r aware that botanical garden is visited by tourists from around the world. i frequented the place every week for my regular exercises. what disgusted me is the lack of awareness in feeding the monkeys. what makes it even worst is the lack of enforcement in the park…its common to see locals and tourist alike feeding the monkeys right in front of the security guards where the signboard clearly says, ‘no feeding of monkeys’! on the other hand, people are complaining about monkeys attacking people but chose to forgot to ask themself why is that so. am not surprise if one day, a bigger animal were to encroach into the garden ground for food.
    my only wish is to safe/keep penang in its most natural state. i totally agree with soohuey on the tiger park, we do not need the bells and whistles to attract tourist but the natural flora and fauna as long as they are well maintained.

  4. It is too early to talk about that banning plastic bags. We can’t run before we learn how to walk.

    1. We need to find real and practical alternatives (cheap, convenient, etc). In the west, some shops use paper bags instead, sell cloth bags, or encourage shoppers to bring their own bags.
    2. The consumer mindset needs to change. We need to be an environment-friendly society.

    It is up to you to implement policies/programs to encourage 1 and 2. Until then, banning plastics seems to be jumping the gun.

  5. Dear YB Lim,

    No doubt plastic bags created rubbish & not environmental friendly but to do away plastic bag immediately may cause much inconvenience to public. How about the idea of promoting biodegradable plastic bag to substitude the present plastic bag.
    One more issue which I would like to bring out is the massive usage of poly-form for food take away. I think the public needs more info about this toxic products. Poly-form is not environmental friendly and may cause cancer after certain period of usage.
    I am looking forward to see Penang as the first state in the country to pratise such good move towards a environmental friendly state.

  6. Dear YB Lim,

    I have been working in waste management for more than 10 years.. Up to my experiences and knowledge dealing with waste management worldwide.. I don’t see any country that is implementing the total “ban plastic” policy.. There are for sure some local governments in some countries where the NGOs movement are very strong to push towards extream ideas such as “ban incinerator” or “ban plastic”.. but none of these happened in developed countries..

    In Japan, Korea and many European countries for examples, plastic bags are still being used.. but probably on user pay principle.. to encourage reduce and recycle.. even in some major cities in China recently, I found out that the use of plastic bags have been reduced when the users are required to buy or pay for the plastic bags.

    I personally believe that total ban of plastic is only a way of extream thinking and we should not move towards such extreamism in any case. It is the matter of awareness, peoples’ mind-set and thinking.. nothing wrong if you can use plastic “wisely” such as in Japan and Europe where the recycling rate is very high..

    I always like to quote an example of using car.. will YB consider ban car driving in Penang if it is not a Hydrid Car?? I am pretty sure this is not possible.. but normal car has thousands of impacts on the environment!! Isn’t it?? Why not go bicycling!!??

    So if one person shout again to you “ban plastic”, ban this and that, please see whether he/she is “driving green”.. if not, please be wise in thinking..


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